It’s astonishing to find technologically advanced industries still struggling with the age-old problem of paper records and disconnected systems. Take the healthcare industry, which has made robotic surgery possible and now is on the verge of releasing nanobots into our bloodstreams. Yet on the backend, healthcare professionals and patients still resubmit the same forms over and over because of a lack of integration across systems and devices. This increases the risk for errors and, in turn, can jeopardize the health of individuals.
Today, the biggest revolutions in healthcare technology aren’t just occurring on the frontend, but also in getting existing technology on the backend to open up and connect with new technologies. With the explosion of data from mobile and wearable devices, healthcare organizations now need to efficiently and accurately treat patients by connecting with external third-party applications, devices and services for a complete picture of the patient’s health.
In essence, connectivity is the new way forward in healthcare, and APIs are the invisible integrators making this possible.
The New Way Forward
Many organizations and hospitals are cautious of sharing private information that could contain personal, financial and medical data from consumers and patients. Technology innovation in the healthcare industry has historically been hindered by these proprietary concerns over data. In addition, Ponemon Institute estimates 91 percent of healthcare organizations have suffered at least one data breach in the last two years, creating heightened security concerns. Vendors that gather health data are often reluctant to integrate or share electronic health records (EHR) with others for this reason, locking valuable health data in silos and keeping it outside of hospitals.
However, when data isn’t shared with a patient’s care providers and isn’t integrated across systems within the healthcare organization, it fails to provide the full picture of a patient’s health, hindering overall care. For this reason, the industry is gravitating to APIs, which allow disparate systems and data to talk to one another without impacting the underlying data or compromising IT governance and security. This creates a seamless, reusable flow of information between internal systems and those belonging to third parties.
One of the biggest mistakes a healthcare organization can make is keeping data from mobile, wearable and cloud sources in silos.
One company solving these integration issues is Validic, a cloud-based, digital-health platform that uses a RESTful API to provide easy access to patient data from in-home clinical devices, wearables and healthcare applications. Using its RESTful API, Validic is opening up critical information by connecting patient-recorded data with hospital systems, pharmaceutical companies and more. Validic addresses security and privacy concerns by being HIPAA-compliant, managing private data centers and achieving U.S.-EU and U.S.-Swiss “Safe Harbor” standards to ensure personal data is transferred safely.
Additionally, HealthCare.gov, a federal government website managed by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, allows outside developers to embed content from its website through an API. This approach promotes not only greater access to information (promoting transparency and accountability), but also allows others to extend and leverage that data in their own applications.
A Ripe Market
As Apple Watch, Android Wear, Google Glass and Fitbit, among other wearable technology, continue to gain popularity, consumers are putting increasing pressure on healthcare IT vendors and hospitals to allow their health data from personal tracking devices to be shared in real time with their doctors. Therefore, healthcare companies will benefit from integrating these devices into their overall network infrastructure to allow for greater connectivity and information sharing.
In addition, consumers are demanding their medical history be automatically shared with new healthcare providers to reduce the paperwork required with each hospital visit and to ensure all relevant data is accounted for. One of the biggest mistakes a healthcare organization can make is keeping data from mobile, wearable and cloud sources in silos. By allowing the free flow of data across clinical and non-clinical systems and across legacy, cloud, mobile and personal device platforms, hospitals are able to not only improve current patient-care practices, but also innovate and find new ways to enhance the care experience.
The healthcare industry is at the forefront of creating new technology to treat patients. Yet, there is still a dichotomy in that the healthcare industry is also far behind the curve in regards to IT innovation. Many healthcare organizations are still stifled by paper records and old, disconnected systems on the backend. It’s time to change that, and APIs are a way to automate processes and allow healthcare professionals to spend more time focusing on what really matters: treating patients and improving lives.